I’m not a guitar pro, but I do indeed impersonate one.  I have a helluva lot of fun with my Stratocaster and make a point of practicing every morning bright and early, making slow and steady progress as the years go by.  Yet despite that, I have the disadvantage of having started guitar at nearly 40, and thus my fingers lack the steely experience of some young punk who’s been two-handed tapping since he was breast feeding.   So what’s an old fart to do?

Enter a new weapon in my arsenal: the Planet Waves Varigrip.

The stock response on the internet to finger conditioning is this: practice more and don’t waste your money on toys.  I also have a stock response:  Screw you.

I don’t say that because I’m lazy.  I say it because I have a real job, 4 kids, a mortgage and a minivan.  So guess what…I don’t have time to devote 8 hours a day to perfect my craft and have conditioned fingers stronger than adamantium.  And between you and me, those who do have their priorities seriously out of whack in my opinion anyway.  Or maybe they just haven’t left home yet.   In either case, please, no pretentious comments from people who spent their entire lives married to a guitar.

So if your fingers need that extra strength to help them get to the next level, then the Planet Waves Varigrip answers the call most handily indeed.

The Varigrip is different from a tennis ball or hand gripper in that it doesn’t work on grip strength, but rather finger strength. And this difference means everything in the world when you’re trying to get your pinky into some serious action and not have it fall off after only a few minutes of play!  Where can you use it?  Everywhere!  At home, at work.  Hell, you can use it on the bus to school, hiding it under your coat on your lap.  The gripping motion and the determined look on your face will also serve to repel anyone that might distract you from your goal.

After a week of using the Varigrip I noticed improved strength in my digits and was able to do hammer ons and pulloffs with a bit more impact.  Just a word of caution here kids: use this in conjunction with regular practise.  Strength without the dexterity gained by actual practise will not serve you well in the long run at all.  But if you can combine the two then it won’t be long before you see some much appreciated improvement!  And as you improve, the unit has individual dials to adjust the tension of each finger spring, giving you the power to fire off an amazing riff or milk a herd of cattle without breaking a sweat.

Another sweet addition is that if you flip the Varigrip over you can actually work on your finger calluses by pressing them against a rougher surface.  Not sure how well it will work as it appears to be somewhat of an afterthought, but hey, it’s worth a try right?  For all I know regular use of this feature will allow me to slice through the chest cavity of a mugger and rip out his still beating heart due to my indestructible fingertips.  For that perk I’d gladly pay double.

PRICE:  $12.99 at Musician’s Friend
RATING:  Highly Recommended…unless you actually have time to practise 5 hours a day and be a drain on society.

© 2012 – 2015, Dysfunctional Parrot. All rights reserved. No reproduction of written material is permitted.

About Author

John Paul Parrot ( aka. The Dysfunctional Parrot ) is a disgruntled Systems Analyst who wanders the Canadian wastelands saving small villages with the power of Kung Fu.  His chair is also a little too close to the twenty year old microwave.  As you can well imagine, this has had certain side effects.

  • Dennis

    Great review. I have been playing guitar for awhile, and remember seeing these devices back in the 80’s. I never tried one, but have always thought of purchasing one.

    I really enjoy your podcasts, any new podcasts in the works for 2012?